An economic assessment of the Ramsar site of Massa (Morocco) with travel cost and contingent valuation methods
As the only protected area in the whole south west of Morocco, the Souss Massa National Park (SMNP) is characterized by a remarkable biodiversity, with more than 300 plants species, 250 bird species, 20 mammal species and also by the high diversity of its ecosystems, such as the Aragnia spinosa forest, steppes, dunes and coastal wetlands. This park can play a leading role in the region by enhancing its ecotourism potential and therefore contributing to its economic development. We intended to demonstrate in this study, by estimating the recreational value, one popular area, the RAMSAR site of the Estuary of Massa River (EOM). It is located 50 km from the urban center of Agadir City and it attracts about 30,000 visitors a year. To determine its recreational value, the contingent valuation method and travel cost method were applied. The results from 480 surveys, conducted during 2010, showed that the consumer surplus per person per visit is estimated at DH 490,196 ($US 65.36) and the willingness to pay per visitor is about DH 46,523 ($US 6.20). According to this economic valuation, any future local development must take into account, the opportunity that EOM offers as a recreational site, with high ecotourism potential.
Key words: Estuary of Massa River, recreational value, contingent valuation, travel cost method, willingness to pay, consumer surplus.